Last night I had a chance to talk to Randy David about the nursing exam scandal. He had some interesting thoughts on the matter.
But first, some of Greg Macabenta’s arguments from his BusinessWorld column (October 11, unfortunately not linkable) in which he pointed out, there were five subjects in the examination: Nursing Practice I to V.
Macabenta, argued, however, that even if these portions had been leaked, they wouldn’t have (statistically) affected the chance of students to pass or fail. He advocates, instead, punishing those who did the leaking and the review centers that took advantage of the leaks. He points to the legal principle that it’s better to let one guilty person to get off scott-free, than to punish the innocent -and most students were innocent.
This is how he describes it in his column:
500 test questions were prepared for each of these five subjects by Board of Nursing officials, or a total of 2,500. From this batch, computers extracted (the term used by the PRC) 500 final test questions -the ones administered to the examinees. The 500 short list was extracted just shortly before the exam, leaving only enough time to reproduce hard copies.
Of the raw “unextracted” test questions, Test III and Test V were “compromised,” in the sense that the test questions found their way to companies offering review classes, among these, Gapuz Review Center in Baguio, with branches in Manila, Cebu and Davao, and INRESS, owned by a certain Cordero who was, at the time, president of the Philippine Nurses Association and owner of the Philippine College of Health Sciences.
20 questions for Test III and 90 for Test V were in the final exam sheet. The PRC decided to invalidate the 20 questions in Test III, recomputed the scores on Test V, then re-averaged the results. Each of the five subjects would have been normally given a weight of 20%. In the recomputation, Test V was given only a weight of 10%. Because of this, the PRC insists, the results of the NLE are valid.
Even assuming a leakage of all 2,500 questions, the examinees would not have known which ones would eventually be picked out for the exam…
Randy David approached it from a different perspective. First, he pointed out that the policy of UP is that if a student’s published marks might be negatively affected by the (ex post facto) discovery of errors of an instructor, the passing final mark or ability to graduate of that student are left undisturbed. Teacher error is therefore interpreted in favor of the student. The student took the exam or submitted the requirements in good faith, and the marks based on what may have turned out to be the flawed metholodogy or incompetence of the instructor, once publicly released, cannot be revisited to the prejudice of the student.
The problem, David told us, lies in the nursing exam results having been publicly released, and then taken back -to the detriment of the students. Another factor is that, as Macabenta’s column pointed out, what was released were marks that already factored in the exposure of the cheating. So the grades the students officially received were computed with the cheating having been exposed. So all the more, the grades can be viewed as valid because they attempted to factor out any effects leaked questions may have had.
The objection some schools, such as UST, have, is that the methodology chosen to factor out the cheating was itself flawed. As I understood it, the flaw was in treating the nurses’ exam like the bar exams, where leaks have been exposed and dealt with in the past. In the bar exams, leaks for a particular section lead to the recomputation of the weight of individual questions for that section, maintaining, however, the overall weight, in terms of the total grade, of that section. As Macabenta shows, what happened in the nursing exam was that the re-computation lessened the weight of an individual section; which in turn, led to other sections having a greater weight to maintain the whole. This means that the section with the lessened weight (Test V, or “Care of Clients with Physologic and Psychosocial Alterations (Part C)”) was under-represented in the exams, while other sections were over-represented. And yet, obviously, if each section is supposed to represent 20% of the total score, under-weighing one section goes against the way the tests meant to evaluate the fitness of future nurses.
My sense is that David had no objection to the reasoning of UST and other schools that want a mandatory retake. But he thinks the window of opportunity for a retake has closed. That window was open between the time students who took the exam blew the whistle on the leaks, and the time the authorities found out about the leak -which was before the final results were released to the students. Had no student received a grade, David said, then the authorities could have declared that a leak took place, and ordered a partial or full retake. But since they actually attempted -in a rather rushed manner, and without apparently fully appreciating how their quick-solution simply made things worse- to compensate for the leaks, and thus released scores with the leaks already factored in, how can they demand a retake? Whether full or partial.
David suggested that the whole incident is a kind of political powderkeg. It’s not as if this is the first time allegations of leaks have been made. And the outrage of the students -that the President, for one, has no moral authority to be lecturing anyone on cheating- is yet another manifestation of the credibility of public institutions. Too many students and their families have invested time and effort for the government to be able to take the results back. He thinks that government will have no recourse but to uphold the status quo, and we can only hope for a strong effort to rectify the abuses that have been there for some time, but which have been placed front and center.
The Inquirer editorial tackles the proposed anti-terrorism law. Philippine Commentary objects to the editorial’s reasoning.
The PCIJ summarizes the findings of groups opposed to the so-called “people’s initiative.”
Butch Dalisay explains why banning Filipino to promote English is foolhardy.
Eight essays/manifestos on saludalgabre concerning the UP egg-throwing incident. Most interesting is the last one:
According to one of the aphorisms of the German military: “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” And Nietzsche endorses this in the Twilight of the Idols. That is why cruelty and power are so dear to Nietzsche. Miller interprets Nietzsche as saying that, “To exercise actively the will to power, he regards as the essence of life. To exercise this power with abandon is not only to court being cruel but, when cruelty occurs, to enjoy the pain the suffering, the agony that cruelty causes. “To practice cruelty is to enjoy the highest”-note the adjective: the highest -“gratification of the feeling of power.” To enjoy the exercise of power is, in effect, to be cruel. And cruelty is the virtue of the noble individuals. As Miller points out BE CRUEL in your resoluteness, welcome the harsh renunciations and sometimes brutal costs of relentlessly pursuing any vaulting ideal, be it wisdom, Godliness, or revolutionary purity. This we may call the cruelty proper to the ascetic, an eagerness to suffer the pains entailed by unswerving commitment to any burning faith or transcendent ambition.” Of course the military and the Rightist can claim they can also be cruel. This is where the liberal are out-smarted: they shy away from inflicting cruelty to realize their ideals, but the reactionaries do not!
…This festival should be a reminder to the future generations of UP students, that for a brief moment, the students are able to equalize the status gap between them and the highest military official, no less than the Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (Because if the incident happened elsewhere it could have been catastrophic!) And that UP can be a freedom zone where statuses do not matter! And that is the highest meaning of RESPECT –A VIRTUE being misrepresented by liberals, and being flaunted by the MILITARY! Esperon deserves RESPECT, yes! –BUT RESPECT ON EQUAL TERMS. As Nietzsche reminds us, respect can only be exercised among equals! THE HIGHEST FORM OF RESPECT THEREFORE IS DISREPECT! As Zizek puts it, “For me there is one measure of true love: you can insult the other… That’s the truth of it. If there is true love, you can say horrible things and anything goes.”
But then again, no activist could even imagine true love for Esperon. What is at stake in their symbolic protest, apart from staging the principle of respect on equal terms is precisely the radical youth’s intelligent idealism. Against the corrupt and criminal practices of the military apparatus, the egg-pelters staged a symbolic argument for the construction of an ideal military apparatus. They who refuse the underside of military force (read: abuse of military power) have grasped the true horizon in through which respect can be affirmed and accorded. Meanwhile, the ones who insist upon respect for an official of a corrupt institution are the ones who are, actually, disrespectful. For, it appears that they are willing to give up on their desire for another form of democracy that is supposed to be protected by the Army for the sake of good manners and right conduct. But the question is, can anyone respect predominant military practice in the Philippines?
True love is destroying the Other’s illusion. The Other in this context is the military establishment. The students who pelted eggs to Esperon are the young radicals who have seen through the illusion: The current military establishment cannot defend the people. Therefore, the act of pelting eggs, especially to Esperon symbolizes a hopeful stance towards the military establishment: That it can be other than what it is today. An armed Forces that serve the people and not the system of private property that protects the interest of a few. As for the liberals, they are simply playing a coy game, and like the reactionaries and state functionaries from within the UP faculty, they never registered their concern when it was established that Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan were abducted. Yet lately, their mouths are frothing over the “desacralization of the University” erroneously equated with Esperon’s momentary shame.
So the first casualty of our shrinking democratic space is neither the Right nor the Left, but the Middle. And as the apostles of National Security push the envelope (and shrink our space for debate), liberal-minded bloggers may want to refer to RConversation’s linking to a guide on how to blog securely and anonymously.
Robinablog met the President and made an observation that cracked me up:
Good thing I wasnt standing next to the President, she’s small but vicious.
Richard Lloyd Parry takes a comprehensive look at North Korea and its government. He also reviews two books on the country. Left Flank looks at commentary on the North Korean nuke test, and suggests America’s “Suez moment” is nigh.
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